Words by Ally Clements
Kitti Durkac is one sassy Southern momma with a sewing machine. Her wandering roots finally settled her in Locust Fork, Alabama. Since then, she has used her eye for detail and love for nature to create pieces for everyone. She throws seams in everything from custom welding caps and handcrafted toys for your little loves, to special-fitted dresses and quilts with personality. No rock is left unturned in her creative world.
You’ve seen a bit of Alabama, where do you currently call home?
Well, I grew up in a small town on a mountain beside Guntersville Lake, and I spent most of my childhood playing in the woods. We were free children of the land, until the porch light came on. Then it was time to get our butts inside. I remember one place in particular; the kids down the road and myself deemed this old barn, in the middle of the field our "clubhouse." We definitely spent a lot of time exploring and getting our hands dirty. After graduating highschool, I moved out to Huntsville to try my hand at the city life. It wasn’t shortly after that I packed up and moved myself to a small town in Georgia where I had land to roam. I found solace in the screaming silence of nature. There is no feeling in the world that beats waking up to the sun and following a path in the woods that is in the exact same spot but looks completely different than it did the day before. Some time went on, and I ended up moving myself to Mobile, Alabama to be closer to family. I loved it, but again couldn’t let myself settle. I made my last move to Locust Fork, Alabama - right outside of Birmingham. Currently living on a homestead of twenty-or-so acres in a 800 sq. ft. home that we call the River Shack. The last two years my little family and I have put in a lot of love and manual labor in a home by the river where we can grow produce, forage, hunt, and fish.
Where did you find your love in the details of nature, and how did you first start incorporating it into your work?
It definitely began with my move to the River Shack. We set up game cameras and got a closer look at how much wildlife was roaming around our land. On numerous occasions a fox or two would sneak up and follow us into the woods. We would swim in the river and be surrounded by freshwater fish tickling our legs. Groups of deer would gather in our yard in the morning, and the night air would be filled with a chorus of coyotes, sometimes even a mountain lion. These are all beautiful and inspiring elements that have not only influenced my work but also my very being. I began to pay closer attention to all of the tiny details, like the winding trails that the termites had carved into an old log. I traced it onto some computer paper and hand carved it into a wood block to print onto fabric. It was absolutely beautiful and unique. Since then I've had a whole new perspective of the beauty in the natural patterns that go unseen every day. I'm still learning and exploring more and more to find these little inspirations.
You established yourself as an artist in 2006. How has your work grown, and what has been your biggest lesson learned so far?
In all of my years of being a seamstress and a small business owner, my biggest learning experience is that I can’t force anyone to want what I make. I create what I do for me and my own happiness. In the middle of my business venture, I started creating "pay the bills" pieces, which were mainly sports, camo, and anything that screamed Buy me! to every passing Southerner. I got sucked into this awful mundane cycle of making to please because those pieces brought in money. I woke up one morning with the same feeling you have on a Monday morning where you crawl out of bed and and get ready for that 9 to 5 that you hate. Only I worked that 9 to 5 that I created from my own home. At that point I completely shut down shop and re-stocked with a brand new overhaul of creations made with passion in mind, not bills. I shifted more towards my quirky and nature inspired work that I love so much, and I haven’t looked back since. Currently I am working on an even bigger shift of using printed fabrics with my hand carved wood blocks. Goals are important, and I always have my eye on the next big step in my creative world.
What do you feel is your strongest creative quality, and how does it set you apart?
Being an artist, I feel we all have different perspectives. Nature, being my biggest inspiration, definitely shines through and encompasses that with every detail. It’s more than just a lifestyle, it’s a passion that I live every day. I take pride in my work to a whole new level. Each stitch is meticulously placed and aligned, every button is handset and crafted with dried flowers, and I am always learning and teaching myself new techniques to really embrace who I am, where I’m from, and what I have to offer.
Find Kitti’s work at DixieBloom.com